July 20, 2024 |


Posted on April 10, 2016

TUESDAY, MAY 31 (5:40-7:15pm)
If it’s Tuesday, it must be Parashat haShavua!  In the past few weeks we have explored Parashiot Tzav, Shemini and Tazriya.  Since Gesher is the eldest class, it is their honor to develop our community Torah study questions, which are then discussed in younger classes on Sunday mornings, and they also select a breakfast cereal.  While learning to develop discussion questions has been challenging, students enjoy the challenge of finding a breakfast cereal that they can connect to the parasha and/or the Jewish calendar.  For Tzav, Gesher students selected Cocoa Puffs, since in this Torah portion, prior to their ordination as priests, Aaron and his sons bathed and are transformed by the water. Similarly, the milk is transformed by the Cocoa Puffs. Shemini presents a list of kosher and not-kosher animals, birds and fish.  Students selected Special K because some foods are marked with a ‘K’  to indicate that they are kosher.  Today was our final Sunday prior to Passover.  We embraced the responsibility of eating up our chametz and no cereal was requested.
A few weeks ago, the prophet Amos provided us opportunities to look at a bit of his prophecy and to review the map of Israel.  We began a study of the Amidah focusing on the first bracha.  Sunday, March 27th ended with some soul-searching regarding each student’s signature mitzvah and, moving forward, his/her plans to nourish their Jewish neshamah.
Last Sunday, we continued our study of the Amidahwith the Gevurah blessing in which we recognize God’s awesome power and today we discussed the Kedushah blessing.  We counted 10 words within this blessing that share the shoresh (root) kuf-daled-shin. Since Kedushah is only recited with a minyan, one student said, so a minyan says some form of the word ‘holy’ 100 or more times during a sharcharitor mincha service—an interesting insight!   We met with Rabbi Liben to discuss Jewish marriage, divorce and our laundry list of questions that we have accumulated during our various studies.
Today, we met with Cantor Ken to sing some songs based on Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Sages).  We are learning these songs as both text and music in order to share them with you at our Siyyum(Commencement). 
Yesterday, in his d’var Torah, Rabbi Liben mentioned the AJWS website’s Passover Seder resources (https://ajws.org/who-we-are/resources/holiday-resources/passover/)
The AJWS Four Children intrigued our inquisitive Gesher students.
THE AWJS FOUR CHILDREN: A Passover reading designed to transform questions into action
  • What does the Activist Child ask?
The Torah tells me, “Justice, justice you shall pursue,” but how can I pursue justice?
Empower her always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”
  • What does the Skeptical Child ask?
How can I solve problems of such enormity?
Encourage him by explaining that he need not solve the problems, he must only do what his is capable of doing.  As we read in Pirkei Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
  • What does the INDIFFERENT Child say?
It’s not my responsibility.
Persuade her that responsibility cannot be shirked.  As Abraham Joshua writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference.  In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
Prompt him to see himself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy.  As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.”
At this season of liberation, let us work toward the liberation of all people.
Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice.

This alternative Four Children reading provided a wonderful opportunity to talk about values and vocabulary and was a meaningful introduction to our special program on Fair Trade Chocolate.